Milestones are marked by numbers. In my blogging life I have written about my first 500 posts and then my first 1,000 posts. Tonight I write of having reached 1,000,000 page views over 13 years of blogging.
I do not know how many people have read the blog. I have never tracked visitors. I do know I have readers from around the world.
As 2023 has unfolded I wondered which milestone I would reach first - 1,000,000 page views or 1,500 blog posts. As the year progressed it was clear it would be page views. This will be my 1,473rd post on the blog.
Over the years I have been intrigued by the posts which have drawn the most page views. The top 10, with links, are:
1.) Amelia Island is Camino Island with 20,300 views - After reading Camino Island by John Grisham I wrote a post about Amelia Island which inspired the setting of Camino Island. Amelia Island is a lovely island just outside Jacksonville, Florida. Grisham has a vacation home there;
2.) “N” is for Stuart Neville with 18,100 views - For a few years Australian blogger, Kerrie Smith, had a Crime Fiction Alphabet meme. One year I chose to go through the alphabet by posts about writers. I had read the Ghosts of Belfast by the Northern Ireland writer and found it a powerful reflection on the psychological consequences of “killing upon the killers”. Still I think it got most of its page views because an “N” image in the post, for quite awhile, was one of the images you found if you googled the letter “N”;
3.) Reviewing the movie adaptation of Louise Penny’s Still Life with 13,600 views - A decade ago CBC television produced a movie version of Still Life. Much as I have loved the Armand Gamache series I considered the movie no more than average. I thought Nathaniel Parker as Armand Gamache was badly cast. I could not see him as a French Canadian. My assessment that it would have been better for the format to have been a mini-series proved ill-fated. When Amazon Priime created a series last year Three Pines based upon the Penny’s books the series lasted but one season. I thought the series deserved to be renewed. I was most impressed by Alfred Molina as Gamache. He will be my image of Gamache as I read further books in the series;
4.) Danish Chestnut Dolls in Fiction and Real Life with 11,100 views - In the Danish mystery, The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup, the murderer left small figures made from chestnuts at crime scenes. Unable to find clear photos online of the “chestnut dolls” I contacted my Danish friend, Bente, who made some dolls and sent me photos which are in the post. The innocent dolls were a vivid presence at murder;
5.) Legally Speaking in Fiction and Real Life with 10,500 views - I occasionally write of my experiences as a lawyer, especially in court. This post discussed how lawyers speak in fiction and real life. Lawyers are articulate in real life but not as perfect as fictional lawyers are in speaking. I did quote the end of a closing address to juries used by famed American lawyer Gerry Spence:
Ladies and gentlemen I am about to leave you, but before I leave you I’d like to tell you a story about a wise old man and a smart-alec boy. The smart-alec boy had a plan, he wanted to show up the wise old man, to make a fool of him. The smartalec boy had caught a bird in the forest. He had him in his hands. The little bird’s tail was sticking out. The bird is alive in his hands. The plan was this: He would go up to the old man and he would say, “Old man, what do I have in my hands?” The old man would say, “You have a bird, my son.” Then the boy would say, “Old man, is the bird alive or is it dead?” If the old man said that the bird was dead, he would open up his hands and the bird would fly off free, off into the trees, alive, happy. But if the old man said the bird was alive, he would crush it and crush it in his hands and say, “See, old man, the bird is dead.” So, he walked up to the old man and said, “Old man, what do I have in my hands?” The old man said, “You have a bird, my son.” He said, “Old man, is the bird alive or is it dead?” And the old man said, “The bird is in your hands, my son.” Ladies and gentlemen of the jury my client is in yours."
6.) Redefining Success - Still Making Mistakes by W. Brett Wilson with 5,900 views - While most of my reading and most of my posts involve crime fiction I do read and write about non-fiction. Wilson’s autobiography covers the facts of his life but is more about the lessons he has learned from a life in business in Alberta. He grew up in Saskatchewan and remains proud of his home province:
Ask anyone in the Calgary corporate community and they’ll tell you: if you want to hire a trustworthy person who understands that a hard day’s work earns a fair wage, just hire someone from Saskatchewan.
He is an excellent writer whose perspective on life and business was profoundly affected by having prostate cancer;
7.) The Boys from Biloxi by John Grisham with 5,000 views - Grisham’s saga on Biloxi, Mississippi published last year featuring the Marco (good guys) and Rudy (bad guys) family is a good book but it is not one of Grisham’s best and I do not consider my review one of my best. Somehow this review has attracted spammers. It attracts 1-2 spam comments almost every day. I faithfully delete them but I expect more will appear tomorrow.
8.) A Murder of Crows by David Rotenberg with 4,600 views - The title is evocative in referring to the name for a gathering of crows. The book is the second in the The Junction Chronicles trilogy. In the book synesthete, Decker Roberts, is called upon to assist in the investigation of a university graduation ceremony bombing in which 200 were killed. Roberts can tell if someone is not telling the truth. He examines hundreds of videos. The limitation to his skill is that he cannot tell whether someone not telling the truth is lying;
9.) Josef Müller - A German Catholic Hero of World War II with 4,000 views - While reading Church of Spies by Mark Riebling I learned of Müller’s remarkable life. A Bavarian lawyer he acted as a conduit between German Military Intelligence and the Vatican for Pope Pius XII. Eventually he was arrested:
On April 8, 1945 Müller was advised he would be hanged that day:
Müller prepared for death. He sank to his knees in his striped orange and gray pajamas, whispering the Our Father. Then he motioned to one of his fellow prisoners, Russian General Pyotr Privalov, and asked him to memorize a message. Knowing that the last words of the condemned sometimes reached the outside world, he told Privalov he would shout to the hangman: “I die for peace!”
Müller then walked to the gallows. What happened there is as dramatic as any work of fiction I have read.
You will need to read Church of Spies to find out what happened.
10.) Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch with 2,800 views - I have loved Michael Connelly’s books for over 20 years. Since I started keeping track of my reading in 2000 I have read more Connelly books than any other author.
When Harry Bosch was brought to the screen in the Bosch television series I wondered who would be cast as Harry. As set out above I had been very disappointed in Nathaniel Parker as Armand Gamache.
From the first episode of Bosch I considered Titus Welliver to be Bosch. Beyond the physical image being perfect Welliver conveys Bosch’s persona:
Harry of the books has a presence. When he enters a room he is the focus. Supervisors resent the attention he draws from other officers. Welliver has that touch of swagger.
I have known but a few men who went through life unafraid. Not always physically imposing they had a mental toughness that made them virtually unbeatable in conflict. Welliver convinces the viewer he will take on anyone at any time. If he loses it will be a surprise and he will go down fighting.
I regret that my top Canadian book review, Cobra Clutch by A.J. Devlin, was 11th with 2,400 views.
I find it interesting that only 3 of 10 most viewed posts were actually book reviews. I do not know why.
I still enjoy writing posts though my pace has slowed in recent years.
I have appreciated contacts with authors. In particular, I am proud to know a pair of Saskatchewan writers of crime fiction - Gail Bowen and Anthony Bidulka. I have enjoyed reading their books and spending time with them.
An unexpected pleasure of blogging has been making virtual friends with other bloggers. Some no longer post or are gone but others stay in contact through comments. I especially appreciate Margot Kinberg, TracyK. And Moira Redmond.
I am grateful to all the readers in the world who have come to read my blog. When I started I wondered if anyone would read the blog. A million page views fills me with joy. Best wishes to readers everywhere.